The Improvisors

Serious discussion about the band known as QUEEN.

The Improvisors

Postby fosterol » Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:12 pm

Ok this may be a tad controversial...

Queen were amazing at song structure. Indeed masters, very few have been better. However removing the structure, Queen were not so hot. I feel on stage they were fine if they stuck to a loose version of the original, however if it came to improvising within this they were quite poor.
1. Brians long solo slot. Yes its legendary, however its very poor structurally, its made up on the spot, yet doesn't really follow a pattern or tidily reach a conclusion, often stopping and starting erratically. Indeed the best I have heard it was the Live Killers brilliant version, which we know was a montage. Please don't get me wrong he has done some excellent long solos, but there have been few either live or recorded that have really had the wow factor. Sure there are great moments within, its just the overall structure.
2. Freddie in the 70s especially with the awful Its late, prophet song, get down make love vocal delay infused section. Im sorry but it was ghastly and although im sure there was a loose structure, you can see he is working to a point, yet improvising quite amateurishly within this.
3. Freddie scatting. Hmmm, he really shouldn't have.
4. Brian long live song solos, such as Now im here. Lots of power chords and bending notes but nothing particularly exciting. Fell back to quite predictable bluesy scales that had little variety
5. Roger drum solo. Actually much better now than his 70s/80s solos which were less structured. Nowadays he plays a finely constructed solo. His old timpani solos were basic and went nowhere. Elsewhere his solos seemed half arsed as if he wasn't really interested. Keep yourself Alive and Now im here end were very good, but if he tried to extend it just didn't work.
Blues Breaker is Brian improvising at his best, but then if you can't shine around Eddie V H then you're screwed. Its quite odd you would expect musicians of such quality to excel at improv, at least they were genius elsewhere and lets be honest what is poor quality by there standards is a damn sight better than a lot of musicians could achieve.
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Re: The Improvisors

Postby Pingu » Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:15 am

I think you've hit the nail on the head there.

No one quite knows what Smile where like live, but they were certainly coming out of the power trio set up, emulating Cream/ Hendrix. Who, especially the former, were bands based on impro and lengthy instrumentals. You can add The Who to that (once Townshend put his boiler suit on).

Queen were different in that they were quite consciously about structure and texture. Laid over the 'heavy' rock format, sure, but they weren't coming out of blues improv like Clapton and Hendrix, or out of the relentless live work that The Who made their reputation with. Queen took their time getting it 'right', as any glance at their 1970-73 live appearances will attest.

There's a definite case to be made that Brian's best guitar work is compositional rather than improvised. He needs to go away and worry at things, which is where his most notable work comes. Only when he has a clear format does he stretch himself out as a player. The long solo is really a number of set pieces with a certain amount of experimentation/ornamentation, which goes for all his live solos really. He knows his limits and doen't allow himself to get into trouble. Witness his playing with Les Paul in 1991. It's decent enough but he's clearly quite rueful about jamming with jazz players who have way more theory and musical vocabulary than he does.

Of course in the 70s, long jams and solos were the thing, man. I think Queen did a decent enough job but clearly limited themselves and stayed within certain parameters. This is one of the reasons they were never cool - to many critics at the time it all seemed too organised and pre planned for a live rock band. The Grateful Dead, they were not.

As for the Freddie 1970s vocal solos and vocal delays, well, certain live Queen things have never officially seen the light of day and I don't think that's an accident.

This is not to slag off Brian or Roger's playing - they do what they do incredibly well, ie in Queen. Now we've all heard their live stuff a million times we can pick holes in it. Back when there was just Live Killers and Live Magic, when Queen were a going concern upto 91, things like Brighton Rock live on record were a treat.
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Re: The Improvisors

Postby Wild/Wind » Sun Aug 05, 2018 3:03 pm

Whatever they did, they put an element only very few bands had. That was melody. Even in their most basic structure songs Queen always have melody.
About Brighton Rock it was pioneer for its time. I liked when Iommy played some parts of it during 2000s Black Sabbath tours.
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